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DODGERS REPORT

Furcal sorry to see May come to end

June 01, 2007|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Rafael Furcal's hitting streak came to an end at 15 games Thursday, but not before the Dodgers shortstop raised his average 84 points to .302.

"I'm just trying to be more patient at home plate, looking for the pitch that I want," said Furcal, who hit .462 during the streak.

Furcal started the season on the disabled list and sat out the first nine games because of a strained left ankle, then spent the rest of April trying to get his timing back. As a result he batted only .200, with 15 hits, for the month.

He had that many hits in the first five games of his streak.

"If you don't play too many games in spring training and come into the season and you haven't seen ... live pitching, it's not the same," he said. "April was like spring training. I tried to do too much."

Furcal still isn't 100%, but this time it's a stiff right knee that's slowing him down.

"It's getting better," he said. "It's sore a little bit. I think that will go away."

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The Dodgers entered Thursday second in the National League with 41 errors and second-worst in the NL with a .979 fielding percentage. But infield coach Mariano Duncan said he's not worried about the team's defense.

"There's no concern," he said. "Errors are part of the game. All those guys are human beings, no matter whether those guys are major league players. Everybody makes mistakes."

Jeff Kent has made the most errors (nine), and his .960 fielding percentage in 48 games ranks him last among NL second basemen. But those numbers are softened by Kent's offensive production since he ranks among the top NL second basemen in virtually every significant batting category.

Besides, Duncan added, numbers alone can be misleading. Although Furcal is averaging an error a week, for example, Duncan says some of those have come because Furcal's range allows him to get to balls others wouldn't.

"If there is something that I know that one of my infielders is struggling [with], I take [him] one by one and I work extra fielding with him," Duncan said. "But right now, the errors that we make, it's not concerning me."

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Reliever Chin-hui Tsao is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, but Manager Grady Little said that's not likely to happen.

"He still a ways away. We're going to wait until he's completely free of any kind of tightness or soreness ... before we let him throw off the mound," Little said of Tsao, who has a strained shoulder.

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Growing up in Oklahoma, pitcher Brad Penny found himself surrounded by Dallas Cowboys fans. So, naturally, he decided to root for the Washington Redskins. A clubhouse attendant relayed that information to Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, who sent Penny a pair of Redskins helmets and an autographed football on which he wrote "thanks for being a super fan."

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Minor league outfielder Larry Bigbie was dropped from the roster of the Dodgers' triple-A team Thursday, hours before he became eligible to exercise a contract option allowing him to become a free agent. The four-year major league veteran was fourth in the Pacific Coast League in hitting at .349 for Las Vegas.... The Dodgers are donating a 40-foot bus obtained from the L.A. County Metro Transit Authority to a sportswriters group in the Dominican Republic. The team donated three buses to a Santo Domingo school for underprivileged children last year.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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